You may have noticed your child’s over-sensitivity to certain things. It could be the amount of light they see, the sounds they hear, and even with the things they touch. On the contrary, your child may display the incessant need for haptic stimulation- meaning, they may feel the urge to feel physical contact or display a higher tolerance to pain. 

You may feel confused about why your child throws a tantrum when you dress them or becomes extra sensitive with the things they see and with the sensations they feel. You may not understand why touching a certain object overwhelms them or how painful it is for them to hear certain sounds. These abnormal aversions to sensations could manifest during their toddler years and could be telltale signs of sensory processing disorder (SPD). 

Sensory processing disorder affects approximately 5 to 16 percent of children worldwide. SPD is common for children under the autism spectrum. In fact, up to 90 per cent of ASD children have sensory difficulties at varying degrees. One way in treating and managing SPD is through sensory integration technique that’s widely used in Occupational Therapy

In today’s blog, let’s learn more about SPD and how Occupational Therapy can help in its treatment and management.

What Is Sensory Processing Disorder?

Simply put, this is a neurological disorder that affects how an individual processes sensory information. A person may experience oversensitivity (hypersensitivity) or under sensitivity (hyposensitivity).  These sensory challenges can include tactile ( touch), vestibular ( movement), visual (light), and auditory ( sounds) difficulties. 

The symptoms of SPD often include hyper-acute hearing, aversion to touch, poor motor skills, hypersensitivity to light, and lack of focus and coordination. SPD can manifest in children who have neurodevelopmental conditions such as ADD, ADHD, Autism, and Down Syndrome. If you’re concerned that your child may have SPD,  consulting with a specialist is recommended. Understanding your child’s SPD with the help of a specialist is the first step in helping them manage their disorder.

How Does Occupational Therapy Help Treat And Manage SPD?

An occupational therapist works on developing treatment plans which involve various activities that help treat and manage SPD. Using sensory integration techniques, occupational therapists are able to help children with SPD to have a better quality of life and makes it easier for them to manage stimuli around them.  Through OT, therapists gradually expose children with SPD to sensory stimulation in a systematic and repetitive manner. Over time, this will eventually help the brain process and respond to sensations more effectively.

See also: How To Create A Sensory Friendly Home For Your Child With ASD.

As OT is an ongoing process, additional treatment may be necessary through adulthood. The new experiences they face could trigger the onset of new symptoms and OT, combined with other therapies, help in managing this. The ultimate goal of treatment is to improve the quality of life of individuals and help them get through with daily activities without the challenges that’s associated with SPD. 

SPD gets in the way of a child’s development. Without proper diagnosis and treatment, early intervention cannot take place, thus making it more challenging to manage SPD. It’s best to consult with specialists to receive proper diagnosis and treatment. Talk to us at Pulse Therapy and Learning Center for more information about Occupational therapy.

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